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Morning Bell: Is USA Today Serving the Goals of Al-Qaeda?

Posted By Conn Carroll On February 10, 2010 @ 9:46 am In Ongoing Priorities | Comments Disabled

Yesterday, USA Today [1] ran an editorial on the Obama administration’s handling of terrorism, writing: “Officials’ handling of Christmas Day attack looks like amateur hour.” Graciously given the space to respond to this charge, Obama administration Deputy National Security Adviser for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism John Brennan replied [2]: “Politically motivated criticism and unfounded fear-mongering only serve the goals of al-Qaeda.”

Got that? The Obama administration considers any criticism of its national security policies, even from as benign a source as USA Today, as serving “the goals of al-Qaeda.” And the problems with Brennan’s letter don’t end there:

Interrogation Contradictions: First Brennan asserts that “Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was thoroughly interrogated and provided important information.” But just one sentence later Brennan admits: “The most important breakthrough occurred after Abdulmutallab was read his rights.” So which is it? Was the first interrogation so thorough that no active and useful intelligence was lost, or did “the most important breakthrough” come over a month later [3], giving al-Qaeda a month’s head start?

Coordination Contradictions: Brennan asserts “Senior counterterrorism officials from the White House, the intelligence community and the military were all actively discussing this case before he was Mirandized and supported the decision to charge him in criminal court.” But this has been directly contradicted by the sworn testimony of National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair [4] and FBI Director Robert Mueller [1]. Someone is not telling the truth about a vital national security matter. Congress must investigate.

False Miranda History: Brennan writes: “Would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid was read his Miranda rights five minutes after being taken off a plane he tried to blow up. The same people who criticize the president today were silent back then.” But Brennan leaves out the fact that Reid was arrested in December 2001, before the military detention system [5] was in place. This is like accusing George Washington of treason for not using machine guns against the British. He didn’t use them because they didn’t exist yet!

Military vs. Civilian Custody: Brennan writes: “There is little difference between military and civilian custody, other than an interrogator with a uniform. The suspect gets access to a lawyer, and interrogation rules are nearly identical.” That is perhaps the most fatuous sentence in Brennan’s op-ed. The roles of lawyers in the civilian and military system are completely different. In military custody, detainees are not read their Miranda rights and their lawyer’s purpose is to challenge his detention as an enemy combatant [5]. Under civilian custody, the suspect is read his Miranda rights and his lawyer is there to make sure he does not say anything that will incriminate himself. [6] The situations are completely different, not “nearly identical.”

Military vs. Civilian Trials: Brennan writes: “Cries to try terrorists only in military courts lack foundation.” The false choice of all civilian or all military trials is what lacks foundation. There are hundreds of witnesses who stand ready to testify and send Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to jail. We do not need his testimony to be admissible. There is nothing stopping the administration from questioning Abdulmutallab as an enemy combatant without reading him Miranda rights and then trying him in civilian court later.

Last month, The Washington Post editorial board [7], who has endorsed every single Democratic Presidential candidate since 1988, wrote:

UMAR FAROUK Abdulmutallab was nabbed in Detroit on board Northwest Flight 253 after trying unsuccessfully to ignite explosives sewn into his underwear. The Obama administration had three options: It could charge him in federal court. It could detain him as an enemy belligerent. Or it could hold him for prolonged questioning and later indict him, ensuring that nothing Mr. Abdulmutallab said during questioning was used against him in court.

It is now clear that the administration did not give serious thought to anything but Door No. 1. This was myopic, irresponsible and potentially dangerous.

Myopic. Irresponsible. Potentially dangerous. That is a spot-on assessment of the Obama administration’s knee-jerk Miranda-rights-for-everyone counterterrorism policy. And admitting as much would be the first step to defeating, not supporting, al-Qaeda.

Quick Hits:


Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News from The Heritage Foundation: http://blog.heritage.org

URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2010/02/10/morning-bell-is-usa-today-serving-the-goals-of-al-qaeda/

URLs in this post:

[1] USA Today: http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2010/02/debate-on-war-on-terror-our-view-national-security-team-fails-to-inspire-confidence.html

[2] replied: http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2010/02/opposing-view-we-need-no-lectures.html?csp=34

[3] over a month later: http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/what-we-lost-while-abdulmutallab-clammed

[4] National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair: http://blog.newsweek.com/blogs/declassified/archive/2010/01/20/intel-chief-s-comments-infuriate-obama-officials.aspx

[5] military detention system: http://www.heritage.org/research/nationalsecurity/enemydetention/

[6] the suspect is read his Miranda rights and his lawyer is there to make sure he does not say anything that will incriminate himself.: http://volokh.com/2010/02/03/eric-holder-letter-to-senators-on-abdulmutallab/

[7] The Washington Post editorial board: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/22/AR2010012204349.html

[8] both Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) expressed opposition: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0210/32757.html

[9] ABC News: http://abcnews.go.com/WN/wind-power-equal-job-power/story?id=9759949

[10] China could possibly sell some U.S. bonds: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6183KG20100209

[11] Iran now has more journalists in prison than any other country in the world: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/10/world/middleeast/10arrests.html?ref=todayspaper

[12] new Washington Post poll: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/10/AR2010021000010.html

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